The East Greenwich Planning Board voted to recommend to the Town Council a six-month moratorium on all wind turbines at a meeting Wednesday night during which time a more-permanent ordinance would be written.
No one has proposed building a sizeable wind turbine in East Greenwich. Rather, the move is seen by the board and the Planning Department as a way to anticipate and perhaps discourage requests. As added incentive, Town Planner Lisa Bourbonnais said a bill was introduced in the General Assembly this session that would limit a municipality’s ability to regulate wind turbines.
“The town doesn’t have a wind ordinance that actually permits these things in certain locations and sets standards for how tall they can be or what their fall zones are or how far away from a densely-settled area they should be,” Bourbonnais said during an interview Tuesday.
“We thought we would impose a moratorium while we study other ordinances and templates and models and what’s happened in other places and draft something coherent,” she said.
Other Rhode Island municipalities have imposed such a moratorium in advance of legislation, including North Kingstown, which ended up with a large wind turbine it didn’t want on privately owned land on Route 102.
Bourbonnais noted that in Falmouth, Mass., they were taking down wind turbines because of perceived health effects. She also talked about the speed of the blades, which appear from a distance to be moving pretty slowly.
“They do appear to move slowly. The larger ones that you see out West, they are going 150 miles an hour. The effect of the three blades – it’s 150 miles an hour,” said Bourbonnais. “It looks like you can track that blade – it doesn’t seem that fast. But it’s a bit of an optical illusion. They’re much faster than they appear at the outer point of the blade.”
EG resident Arthur Doucette asked whether the moratorium would apply to all wind turbines, including small ones. Planning Board Chairman Stephen Brusini said yes, it would, but that sort of distinction (a few feet versus hundreds of feet in size) was just the sort of thing that would be investigated before a more-permanent ordinance was passed.
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